Five Leadership Lessons

Nearly 25 years ago, I started my career as a manager in a Shoe Shop in the United Kingdom in Birmingham to be precise. A few years later, I packed
13 Jun 2015 09:40
Five Leadership Lessons

Nearly 25 years ago, I started my career as a manager in a Shoe Shop in the United Kingdom in Birmingham to be precise.

A few years later, I packed my bags, moved to London and started working in a Finance House where I became a Broker Sales Manager.

Then onto the Public service and finally my own consultancy in New Zealand.

Looking back, it was quite a journey and I’ve picked up a few lessons along the way. This article looks at 5 of my most valuable lessons.


Lesson 1:

Leadership is remembering that it is never about you

– When I started out in retail, the position of manager was attractive to me because of the perceived authority, power and glamour.

– Back then I didn’t know the true meaning of what it meant to be a leader.

– It was about the greater need and sometimes that would be different to your individual need.

– If I could sum up leadership in one word then it would be “Sacrifice”


Lesson 2:

Leadership starts with self-awareness

– Before a leader can consider leading anyone they have to be able to lead themselves.

– Leadership is influence and influence primarily comes from behaviours which arise from the type of person the leader is.

– A Leader needs to be aware of how they react to situations, how they communicate and how they receive information.

– If they can’t understand themselves then how on earth are they going to be able to understand other people.


Lesson 3:

Every leader is unique

– Every leader is different. Some are loud, some are quiet, some appear distant while others act like they are your best friend.

– There is no template as to what leader you should be. When I started out at 18, I was quiet, shy, with very little education and a speech defect, not exactly a great description of a leader but I knew inside that I had the potential to be one. I searched and searched for what type of leader I should be.

– It was only when I started searching within myself that I found the type of leader that I was always meant to be.


Lesson 4:

Leadership is as much technical as it is philosophical

– While leadership is a journey of self awareness there are several technical skills that have to be learnt especially in regards to communication and motivation.

– These are commonly overlooked and when you discuss leadership, the conversation is always positive and mostly around personal qualities such as honesty, courage etc.

– You never hear people say that being a good person is a bad thing. In the middle of this positive behaviour sometimes the technical skills every leader needs gets lost.

– The ability to adapt communication, to handle conflict situations and other personal qualities will only get you so far, technique will get you the rest of the way.


Lesson 5:

A Leader knows that there are very few limitations

– The main message I would like to pass on is that we all have the potential to achieve more in life than we ever felt was possible.

– The reason why so many people don’t believe this is that the realisation that their shortcomings whether they are in the workplace or in relationships in their life are most likely their own fault is a very scary and difficult reality to accept.

– Anything can be achieved.

– All you need is the talent and passion, the only things that separates the people who live their dreams.

– The ones that don’t is the desire to make the sacrifices necessary to turn dreams into reality.

Mark Wager is one of the world’s leading leadership experts. Mark can be contacted at


Fiji Sun Instagram